You’re no king, don’t teach Agong what to do, Zaid tells Thomas

(FMT) – Zaid Ibrahim has flayed former attorney-general Tommy Thomas for his comments on the power of the pardon granted by the Federal Constitution to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay rulers.

“Do not allow this to be a precedent that Your Majesties are pressured or be made to feel guilty due to nonsensical political matters raised by nonsensical lawyers,” Zaid said in a video posted on Facebook.

“We have to preserve the sanctity of the high prerogative of mercy (given to) our rulers. Let us not sacrifice the prerogative given to our Malay rulers to pardon.”

In an interview published by Malaysiakini, Thomas had suggested that under the Federal Constitution, the Agong was not empowered to consider a pardon without the advice of the Pardons Board.

He had also claimed that a pardon for Najib Razak was “impossible” for “legal reasons”.

“The whole idea of pardons is that the convict must show evidence. Hence you need to be in jail for three or four years to show that you have reformed. You have turned a new leaf and you would not engage in criminal deeds,” he said.

In a direct reply aimed at Thomas, Zaid explained that the power to pardon granted to the King and the Malay rulers by the Federal Constitution is one which is universally accepted, namely, “the high prerogative of mercy”.

“The power given to His Majesty by the constitution is not subject to the decision made by the court or how long the case has been in progress. Neither is it subject to the opinions of you or me or public opinion.

“It is entirely reliant on the personal opinion of His Majesty,” he said.

He said the Agong does not sit as a judge when exercising his prerogative.

“He is not bound to study the legalities of the case,” the senior lawyer explained. “If he were bound by legal precedents, there would be no need for the high prerogative of mercy. Just abolish it.

“What His Majesty is called to do is study all aspects of justice before coming to a decision, (including) whether there were faults in our judicial system or whether there exists any other reason which makes the exercise of his prerogative appropriate. That is all.”

Zaid also said the role of the Pardons Board set up under the constitution was to advise the King, “if His Majesty needed advice”.

“The power to pardon is not subject to the advice of the Pardons Board. His Majesty’s power cannot be questioned and is not open to debate. This was established more than 25 years ago, Mr Tommy Thomas. (It is) non-justiciable,” he said, adding that these have long been established by the courts, citing the cases of Sim Kie Chon (1985) and Mona Fandey (2002).

He said the power to pardon was personal and subject to the King’s absolute discretion.

“We ought not to be teaching (His Majesty) what to do. We are not kings. We cannot impose views which border on putting pressure on (His Majesty),” he said.

He said the power to pardon was not to be used for the sake of gaining popularity or for profit, but must be exercised sincerely according to the King’s wisdom.

“I believe in the wisdom and the ability of His Majesty and the Malay rulers,” he said.